Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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There’s no worse way to start a vacation than being the last person standing at the baggage claim carousel when it shuts off, and it’s clear your checked luggage didn’t arrive. On top of the annoyance, you now have the hassle of dealing with this situation during a vacation, plus the forms to fill out — great. Then there’s the cost involved and trying to get reimbursed.
Or maybe your luggage was damaged. It showed up but with missing or broken items.
In either situation, baggage insurance can be helpful. These policies can protect you against out-of-pocket costs if your luggage is delayed, lost, or damaged in transit. While airlines are required to cover certain costs in these situations, they may not cover everything. That’s especially true if you’re traveling with high-value items. Taking some nice golf clubs or top-notch ski equipment in your checked luggage? Baggage insurance might be worth considering to ensure you aren’t left holding the bill in any of these situations.
|Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection ExactCare Value
|Trawick International Safe Travels Voyager
|High coverage during delays
|Generali Global Assistance Premium
|Avoiding per-item limits
At $15 for some plans, the Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection ExactCare Value plan is an inexpensive addition to your vacation that can cover lost or delayed luggage. However, the payout maximums are lower than some other plans. You’ll get up to $750 per person in lost luggage coverage, but the most any particular item can be insured for is $500. Your delayed luggage benefit also won’t kick in for 24 hours.
While many baggage insurance policies make you wait 12 or 24 hours before you can buy items eligible for reimbursement, you only need to wait 8 hours with the Trawick International Safe Travels Voyager plan. That’s good news, as there are items you’ll need right away if your suitcase doesn’t come on vacation with you. Additionally, you can be covered up to $600 per person with the baggage delay coverage on this plan. That’s a positive if your immediate costs are high, like arriving at a snowy destination while your coats are in the delayed suitcase.
With the Generali Global Assistance Premium plan, you’re covered for up to $2,000 per person in baggage loss. There aren’t any maximum per-item limits like you’ll find with most other policies. This is handy if you have an expensive item you want to insure (like a surfboard) rather than wanting to insure many inexpensive items (a suitcase full of your regular clothes).
“Baggage insurance” is a catch-all term for insurance policies that can protect your possessions while traveling. Some baggage insurance policies cover checked luggage only; others will include carry-on bags. Some policies only cover lost or damaged luggage; others include expenses you incur from delayed luggage.
Understanding what a policy covers and comparing that to your travel plans is important to ensure they’re a good match. Having an insurance policy that doesn’t cover your situation is about as useless as not having a policy at all.
Baggage insurance works by covering your monetary losses. These obviously include losses from damaged goods and lost items, but covered losses also include what you have to spend on necessary items while waiting for delayed luggage. Those expenses could include clean underwear, a toothbrush, and deodorant.
Yes, airlines are responsible for getting your checked luggage to its final destination. However, your carry-on bags are your responsibility. Also your responsibility: items inside your luggage. That means airlines won’t provide reimbursement if your suitcase arrives on time but had items removed from it.
Here’s an example, taken from American Airlines’ baggage policy:
“We will not accept liability for missing items inside a checked bag on flights within the U.S. unless it has been reported as delayed or damaged. If your bag was delayed or damaged and you notice missing items after it’s delivered, you must file a missing items claim within 24 hours of receiving your bag for flights within the U.S., or 7 days for international flights.”
Additionally, there are limits to how much airlines are required to reimburse you for lost or damaged luggage — a maximum of $3,800 on most domestic flights and $1,700 on most international flights, according to the Department of Transportation. Note, however, that assistive devices for disabled travelers are not subject to these limits on domestic flights. These must be covered in full.
So the answer is “yes,” airlines cover your luggage when it’s checked in. However, that coverage has limits and doesn’t cover situations where the bag arrived with some items missing. You may need a separate baggage insurance policy if you want coverage for your specific items, carry-on luggage, or items that cost more than the predefined limits.
You should buy baggage insurance when your existing coverage isn’t enough. That would include the built-in coverage from airlines’ obligations, your credit card’s protections, and potentially your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If those won’t cover the cost of what you’re packing in your suitcase, baggage insurance is probably a smart idea.
Insurance is something you pay for and then hope you never have to use. You hope you never need the fire insurance on your home. Likewise, you hope you never need baggage insurance for a suitcase that disappears into the Bermuda Triangle. But if those unwanted experiences happen to you, you’ll be glad you have insurance.
Baggage insurance is worth it for peace of mind and to ensure your valuable items are covered. If the contents of your checked luggage are below the cost of what airlines or your existing insurance would cover, you may decide supplemental baggage insurance isn’t worth it.
If the contents of your suitcase exceed the mandatory coverage in other areas, it’s probably worth it. For those traveling with expensive business equipment for a trade show, sports equipment for an adventure holiday, or even with multiple gifts around the holidays, you may want baggage insurance for the value above what the airline would pay if your suitcase is lost or damaged.
If baggage insurance sounds like a good idea, let’s make sure it will actually cover your situation before you rush out to buy a policy. Baggage insurance will cover the following mishaps:
However, the “loss” category doesn’t include items you accidentally leave behind, such as items left in your cruise cabin or forgotten in the seat back pocket as you walk off a plane.
Additionally, certain items are expressly excluded from coverage on most policies. These can include:
The last item deserves an explanation. High-value items like computers, electronics, or jewelry may have a separate coverage maximum. Depending on your policy, you may see terms like “$500 maximum for jewelry” or “$1,000 maximum for high-risk items.” If you’re traveling with these items, you may want a separate policy to cover them specifically. Receiving $500 toward your broken or missing laptop won’t be very helpful in replacing it.
The 2 main types of coverage for your checked luggage are baggage delay and baggage loss.
Baggage delay insurance covers you when your suitcase arrives late, such as a bag not making it onto your second flight during a layover. This type of coverage reimburses you for essential items you need to purchase while waiting for your suitcase.
What’s essential? That varies. Did you just arrive in a winter destination, but your family’s coats are in the checked luggage? Jackets are essential. Conversely, did you just fly from snowy Buffalo to sunny Barbados? Shorts and sandals are likely essential. In any situation, toothbrushes, deodorant, and clean underwear can be essential. The definition of “essential” will also vary by how long your luggage is delayed. If it’s arriving on another flight in 3 hours, you won’t need to buy as much as you would during a delay of 24 hours.
Baggage loss insurance covers you when your luggage is lost or damaged. Whatever was inside needs replaced. This type of coverage is meant to reimburse you for the value of what you’ll have to replace after the loss or damage.
If you travel a lot, you may consider an annual travel insurance policy. The cost of this single policy can be cheaper than buying multiple policies over the course of a year. Some of these policies provide excellent baggage insurance protections; others, not so much.
If you’re specifically looking for baggage insurance, getting it through an annual travel insurance policy probably doesn’t make sense. Buying an annual policy will provide protection in numerous areas. If all you want is baggage coverage, you’ll probably pay for things you don’t want by going this route.
When evaluating baggage insurance policies, besides looking for a cost that fits your budget, you need to ensure that the policy will cover your items and their actual value. This means looking at not just the maximum payout under the policy but also what types of items are covered, such as sports equipment, jewelry, or fancy clothes. Additionally, look at any sub-limits in the policy, such as whether it will cover a maximum of $3,000 but no more than $500 for any particular item. That won’t be sufficient if you have something in your suitcase worth $1,200.
The most important items to check are the coverage limit, types of items covered, and any per-item sublimits in the policy. Once you find policies that can cover your items and their value, compare the other inclusions in the policies and their costs.
The best way to get baggage insurance is using coverage you already have. Does your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover your possessions while traveling? Does your credit card (the one used to pay for the trip) cover baggage delays or loss?
If you don’t have these protections already, a good place to start is a travel insurance comparison website. We recommend checking these sites:
On these sites, you can provide some basic information about your trip and compare a wide range of policies. Looking at policies side by side can help you narrow down the best options for your upcoming travels.
We’ve mentioned a few times that a good credit card can provide baggage protections. However, their policies are not all the same. Let’s take a look at a few examples of what is and isn’t covered.
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provide up to $3,000 per person for lost luggage and up to $100 per day for a maximum of 5 days if your baggage is delayed more than 6 hours (or also overnight with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card).
Conversely, The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card don’t cover baggage delays. These cards only provide protection for lost luggage. With the Amex Platinum card, you’re covered for up to $3,000 per person for lost luggage ($2,000 per bag with a $10,000 maximum for all covered people per trip for New York State residents). With the Capital One Venture X card, you’re covered for up to $3,000 per person.
Several small-business credit cards also provide baggage insurance if you pay for the trip with your card. You can get the most robust coverage from 2 Chase business credit cards. With the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card or United Club℠ Business Card, you’re covered for up to $3,000 per person for lost luggage and up to $100 per day during baggage delays. The benefit goes into effect after delays of 6 or more hours. The United Club Business card provides baggage delay coverage for a maximum of 3 days; it’s a maximum of 5 days on the Ink Business Preferred card.
Once again, American Express’ card offerings don’t help you with delayed luggage, just lost baggage. With The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re covered up to $3,000 per person for lost luggage ($2,000 per bag with a $10,000 maximum for all covered people per trip for New York State residents). With the American Express® Business Gold Card, the maximum is $1,250 per person for lost luggage (with a $10,000 maximum for all covered people for New York State residents).
We estimated a couple’s trip for 1 week to Italy, departing on May 1st. This theoretical couple lives in California, and their ages are 34 and 35. Using Squaremouth, we selected the options to not cover medical evacuation costs or trip costs, allowing us to hone in on baggage insurance without paying for anything else. Then, we checked the boxes to include baggage loss and baggage delay protections.
The cheapest option came from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s ExactCare Value plan. At $15, this plan includes $200 per person of baggage delay coverage and $750 per person in baggage loss insurance. The delay coverage goes into effect after 24 hours of delay; the loss policy has a first-item limit of $500, a $250 maximum for additional items, and a deductible of $50.
Waiting 24 hours before your baggage delay benefit goes into effect is quite a long time to wait before getting a toothbrush. The 4 cheapest policies in this comparison all require waiting 24 hours; the only policy providing a shorter waiting period is Seven Corners Trip Protection Basic. The baggage delay coverage with this plan goes into effect after 6 hours. However, the baggage loss maximum payout is just $500 per person with this plan, including a $250 maximum per item. This plan costs $41.
You’ll pay more for a policy with higher payout maximums and shorter waiting periods. Among the 5 premium policies below, the cheapest option is $65.36 from the Generali Global Assistance Premium plan. Here, you’ll be covered after delays of 12 hours and get up to $2,000 per person in lost luggage coverage — without any per-item restrictions. Up to $2,500 in baggage loss coverage is included on 3 of the policies in this comparison, but they all have maximums per item, which Generali’s policy doesn’t.
The shortest waiting period for baggage delay comes from Trawick International’s Safe Travels Voyager plan, which also has the highest maximum payout for baggage delay. Here, you’re covered after 8 hours of delay, up to a maximum of $600 per person.
If the baggage carousel stops and your suitcase is damaged or hasn’t come out at all, there are a few things you need to take care of. First, you must report luggage loss to the carrier immediately, whether it’s an airline, bus company, ferry, or cruise line. Make an official report and ensure there is a claim number on your report. Depending on the type of claim you’ll make later, many insurance providers require that you make this initial claim at the baggage claim area — or within 24 hours at the most.
Next, you need to check whether your items are covered by another policy, such as your credit card insurance or homeowner’s insurance. The terms of some policies say things like “after exhausting other coverage,” meaning they provide secondary coverage for remaining value not yet reimbursed or any deductibles you may have paid with other policies. Thus, you may need to wait for the airline to settle your claim before making a claim with your credit card benefits provider or renter’s insurance. Your baggage insurance policy, if you purchased one, may be the final stop.
While making a claim, you’ll need to provide details such as your flight number, record locator, and proof of claim with the airline. But you’ll also need proof of the value you’re claiming for the lost or damaged items, such as receipts and details for each item. This can be difficult, as many of us don’t retain receipts for all of our clothes or have proof of what clothes we packed in the suitcase. Taking photos or videos of your suitcase contents can be very helpful here.
When you make a claim with insurance providers, you should only claim what hasn’t been covered already. For example, if you can prove that you had $5,000 of scuba equipment in a lost suitcase and that the airline reimbursed you for the maximum coverage of $3,800 on a domestic flight, then you would only claim $1,200 from your baggage insurance provider. You would also attach proof of the items’ value and the proof of settlement for less than the full value with the airline.
Finally, it’s worth noting that your claim may be paid out according to a depreciated value. If you’re claiming designer clothes that you paid $2,000 for in 2021, expect that the value of these will be depreciated, due to wear and time. This can be frustrating, as receiving 80% of what you originally paid for an item won’t cover the cost of buying a new one. That can be another reason why having coverage in multiple areas is useful.
There are several ways to cover your luggage against delays and losses during a trip. If the maximum payout from your airline or cruise line won’t be sufficient, you may have existing coverage to help fill the gaps. If you don’t have coverage, or it won’t be enough, you can get baggage insurance from numerous travel insurance providers. Before selecting a policy, ensure you understand what it covers and the payout structure (per item versus total coverage) to make sure you pick the right one.
For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.
For the baggage insurance plan benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, baggage insurance plan coverage can be in effect for covered persons for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen baggage during their travel on a common carrier vehicle (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus) when the Entire Fare for a ticket for the trip (one-way or round-trip) is charged to an eligible card. Coverage can be provided for up to $2,000 for checked baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage, in excess of coverage provided by the common carrier. The coverage is also subject to a $3,000 aggregate limit per covered trip. For New York State residents, there is a $2,000 per bag/suitcase limit for each covered person with a $10,000 aggregate maximum for all covered persons per covered trip. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
For the baggage insurance plan benefit of the American Express® Business Gold Card, baggage insurance plan coverage can be in effect for eligible persons for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen baggage during their travel on a common carrier (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus) when the entire fare for a common carrier vehicle ticket for the trip (one-way or round-trip) is charged to an eligible account. Coverage can be provided for up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage, in excess of coverage provided by the common carrier (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus). For New York State residents, there is a $10,000 aggregate maximum limit for all covered persons per covered trip. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
For the baggage insurance plan benefit of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, baggage insurance plan coverage can be in effect for covered persons for eligible lost, damaged, or stolen baggage during their travel on a common carrier vehicle (e.g. plane, train, ship, or bus) when the Entire Fare for a ticket for the trip (one-way or round-trip) is charged to an eligible card. Coverage can be provided for up to $2,000 for checked baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage, in excess of coverage provided by the common carrier. The coverage is also subject to a $3,000 aggregate limit per covered trip. For New York State residents, there is a $2,000 per bag/suitcase limit for each covered person with a $10,000 aggregate maximum for all covered persons per covered trip. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the United Club℠ Business Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
Most travel insurance policies will cover lost baggage. Coverage varies by policy, however. This can include maximum payouts, maximum coverage on a per-item basis, and exclusions of certain high-value items.
Yes, you can. When your luggage is delayed, your travel insurance policy and even the airline may reimburse you for essentials you need to purchase while waiting. These can be items like clean underwear, a toothbrush, or even items required during your particular trip. Need to rent a suit for an important business presentation? Is your snowboard delayed and you need to rent one for a day while waiting? These may be considered essential. Keep the receipts.
Airlines are required to reimburse you up to certain maximums for lost luggage. This is typically $3,800 at most during domestic trips and up to $1,700 on international itineraries. Your insurance provider will require you to settle your claim with the airline first. Afterward, you can claim any remaining value from your travel insurance.
This is typically $3,800 at most during domestic trips and up to $1,700 on international itineraries. However, these are maximums. You’ll be reimbursed for the actual cost of what you lost or what was damaged in your checked luggage.
It’s possible to take out additional insurance if you think the airline’s coverage won’t be sufficient. You can purchase a general travel insurance policy, a specific policy for a particular high-value item you’re transporting, or even pay for the trip with a credit card that provides coverage for delayed or lost luggage.
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Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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